"Good morning!" said Bilbo, and he meant it. The sun was shining, and the grass was very green. But Gandalf looked at him from under long bushy eyebrows that stuck out further than the brim of his shady hat.
"What do you mean?" he said. "Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?"
"All of them at once," said Bilbo.
This is my favorite passage in all of literature; it is by J.R.R. Tolkien as he writes the beginning of his novel, "The Hobbit." I love the wit between the two characters as this is their first meeting. I love the line, "and he meant it," the genuine goodness that Bilbo feels and wants others to feel on the blissful morning described.
I preach positivity and gratitude. I look for silver linings, even if I have to paint them myself. I listen to the birds chirping and smell the smallest of wild flowers. I desire love and peace and goodness. But lately, I've found myself trapped in negativity. Maybe you can relate to swings of life like this. I feed into my complaints. If there's a bad thing to be said about something, I will be the first to say it. My analyzing hasn't been leading me to compassion, but to judgement. Gossip sits on the end my tongue, slander in my own voice rings in my ears. When wished good morning, I repeat Gandalf's words in my own grumpy tone, "is it a good morning whether I want it or not?" My irritability leaves me in miserable moods with no one to blame but myself.
I know the things that bring me joy, activities that light me up. I've read articles on self-care and practicing positivity. However, they all stem from Eastern or New Age thinking, which is not what my spirit is rooted in at all. Though I can find truth in them, it doesn't speak to the darkest places of my heart-- only Truth Himself can do that. I needed something deeper, something more real. While I can enjoy gratitude journaling and yoga flows, I knew Scripture was where I needed to be. Romans washed my mind with the light it needed.
"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good."
It's so simple, but I think that's what I needed. When we love sincerely, complaining, gossip, and slander won't be what enters your mind first; encouragement will be. When we hate evil, we won't push away the love in our lives. When we cling to what is good, we cling to Christ our Lord. When we genuinely chase after Love and Truth, when we wish goodness over people, we will mean it.